Birdwatch News Archive
Common species like Blackbird will be adversely affected by the continuing bad weather, but it is the scarce and declining birds that are causing conservationists the most concern. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org.
A hard rain is a-fallin'
Posted on: 16 Jul 2012
The National Trust has announced that the ongoing unseasonal rain and flooding is "almost apocalyptic", and its effect on wildlife is likely to be devastating.
Cold, wet conditions have left many bees, bats, birds, butterflies and wildflowers struggling - with next year looking bleak too, it said. Reports of Puffins drowning in their burrows after relentless wet weather have been widely circulated, and more bad news for many of our birds' breeding seasons is likely to be forthcoming after the wettest April-July period on record.
And while greenery is booming, with nettles, bracken and brambles shooting up across the country, flying insects are at a low, leaving seed-eating birds without an invertebrate supplement for their needy chicks, say the RSPB. Anecdotally, it is also likely that nest-building has been hindered by the weather, and many observations of continuing singing by warblers and finches well into July suggests that territories and nest-sites are still being fought for, moved around or even remain without partners for the territorial male.
Wild flowers are doing particularly well, but their pollinators are less mobile at present and Matthew Oates, the National Trust's conservation adviser warned on the BBC News website that the wet weather could lead to local extinctions of rare or isolated species, including some of our sensitive butterflies.
Further reports sea birds being blown off cliffs by gales and garden birds unable to find food for their young have also been published in the media, and Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns breeding at Strangford Lough, Co Down, are unable to keep their chicks dry, warm and well-fed. Puffins on the Farne Islands, managed by the National Trust - have lost 90 per cent of their burrows Brownsman Island, and the chain is the source of the reports of drowning, too.
Matthew Oates said: "This is turning out to be an almost apocalyptic summer for most of our much-loved wildlife, like birds, butterflies, bees. The prospects for many of these in 2013 are bleak. Our wildlife desperately needs some sustained sunshine, particularly beneficial insects."
The full effect of the windy and rainy conditions on wildlife will probably not show until next year's season, but an educated guess will conclude that there will be little good news. the best conservationists can hope for is a late and lengthy period of autumn sunshine to enable birds and insects to stage a much needed partial recovery.
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